The Berlin Zoo has won its long fight to protect the rights to the name of Knut, its infamous (and deceased) polar bear. Knut IP Management Ltd.’s bid to register a trademark for Knut – Der Eisbaer (“Knut – The Polar Bear”) was rejected today by the European Court of Justice due to “a likelihood of confusion in German-speaking regions.”
A UK-registered company, Knut IP Management Ltd., attempted to register a trademark for Knut – Der Eisbaer covering paper goods, clothing, shoes and more, back in 2007. According to press reports, the company was started by the owner of a Berlin boutique. The Berlin Zoo, which already owned the trademark for Knud, challenged the registration.
Born in 2006 at the Berlin Zoo, Knut captured hearts and worldwide press attention after being rejected at birth by his mother. He was then bottle-fed and raised by zookeepers. As a cub, he was featured in an Annie Leibovitz photograph on the cover of Vanity Fair’s 2007 Green Issue (below), alongside actor Leonardo DiCaprio. “Knut Mania” spread; the Zoo experienced record-breaking attendance figures and new revenue streams from the sale of Knut-branded merchandise.
Knut died in 2011 from encephalitis. A taxidermied Knut was displayed earlier this year at Berlin’s Museum für Naturkunde, where he remains part of the museum’s “scientific-research collection.”